Posts Tagged ‘Kim Jong Un’

Why Trump thinks he can win on race

August 18, 2017

BBC News

    • 18 August 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions about his response to the violence, injuries and deaths at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville as he talks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 15, 2017REUTERS

On Wednesday night the talk of Washington was whether Steve Bannon, thanks to his candid interview with Robert Kuttner, the co-founder of the liberal magazine The American Prospect, had ensured his own dismissal as a senior presidential adviser.

On Thursday morning it became readily apparent that, whether or not Mr Bannon remains, Bannonism – if that’s what it can properly be called – is firmly entrenched in the White House.

Donald Trump, in a series of tweets, bashed his Republican opponents and the media and defended Confederate Civil War monuments – the cause for which white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched last weekend.

The president appears to be forcing exactly the kind of fight with progressive groups that Mr Bannon, in his interview, said he welcomed.

“The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em,” Mr Bannon said. “I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, in April at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

On Tuesday and again on Thursday the president made a decided effort to shift the debate from one about the acceptability of white nationalism – a gentle way of describing the racists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klanners who marched with torches and fought with counter-demonstrators last weekend – and onto more stable footing.

A recent Marist poll shows that a majority of Americans support (62%) allowing “statues honouring the leaders of the Confederacy” to “remain as historical symbols”.

Image captionBannon may be out of favour but not his ideology

While the survey question was a bit loaded (the other option was to remove them “because they are offensive to some people”), the bottom line is clear.

While Americans overwhelming reject racism and white supremacists, a debate over weather-worn statues cuts much more in Mr Trump’s favour.

Liberals will point out that the “historical” nature of the statues includes that they were largely erected in the early 20th Century, when southern states were codifying government-sanctioned segregation; that some of these “beautiful” statues, in Mr Trump’s words, are accompanied by exceedingly racist text; and that local governments, reflecting the will of their residents, are the ones opting to remove the statues.

That is all well and good, but if that debate also means Democrats abandon bread-and-butter economic issues, Mr Bannon’s side will welcome the exchange.

More than an issue of race, Mr Trump set up his defence of the statues as an attempt to protect a way of life under attack.

“You are changing history and culture,” the president said on Tuesday.

And in his tweet on Thursday: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart.”

With his “ripped apart” imagery, Mr Trump is playing into the anxiety of Americans – explicitly about the anxiety over cultural change, but those sentiments go hand-in-hand with the financial uncertainty and upheaval that has wracked the nation since the Great Recession of 2008.

That was a central theme of Mr Trump’s winning presidential campaign, an appeal to lower-middle- and middle-class voters who, even if they weren’t personally devastated by the economic freefall and slow rebound over the preceding eight years, could see the chasm from where they stood.

“These are men and women who are, in the main, still working, still attending church, still members of functioning families, but who often live in communities where neighbours, relatives, friends and children have been caught up in disordered lives,” was how New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall describes them.

“The worry that this disorder has become contagious – that decent working or middle class lives can unravel quickly – stalks many voters, particularly in communities where jobs, industries and a whole way of life have slowly receded, the culminating effect of which can feel like a sudden blow.”

Mr Trump railed against change – a return to when America was “great”. And the statue debate, as he’s constructing it, snugly fits that theme.

In his interview, Mr Bannon dismissed what he called “ethnonationalists” as a “collection of clowns”, but that view seems more an attempt to put his liberal interviewer at ease.

Elsewhere, Mr Bannon has boasted that Breitbart, the publication he used to head, was a “platform for the alt-right” – the anodyne term for the collection of white nationalist groups that have seen a resurgence in power and numbers as Mr Trump campaign gathered strength.

Mr Bannon needs nationalists of all stripes – white, economic, even left-leaning populists and anti-trade liberals like Kuttner – for the new political order he hopes to build that will be willing to wage an economic war against China.

Susan Bro, Heather Heyer’s mother: ‘They tried to kill my child to shut her up’

“To me the economic war with China is everything,” Mr Bannon said. “And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Standing between himself and a successful prosecution of this showdown are global elites, including establishment politicians, the mainstream media, financial conglomerates and even Trump administration officials like Goldman Sachs executive turned White House economic advisor Gary Cohn.

If these themes sound familiar, it’s because they were interwoven into Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, particularly after Mr Bannon joined the team in August 2016. They were also a central focus of Mr Trump’s combative inaugural address in January.

If one squints the right way, all of Mr Trump’s recent actions can be seen as part of this overarching strategy. There’s the non-stop battles with the “fake news” mainstream press. The seemingly unnecessary fights with members of his own party, including Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. And the recent announced administration probe of Chinese intellectual property practices, with promises of more trade actions to come.

Squint another way, of course, and Mr Trump’s strategy devolves into the fits and starts of a chief executive who reacts to perceived slights and counter-punches whenever he feels disparaged. The embrace of the Confederate statues is a response to liberal criticism of his handling of the Charlottesville unrest. The feuds with Republicans are because they won’t do his bidding. The media-bashing is because reporters aren’t treating him with appropriate respect.

What Trump said versus what I saw – by the BBC’s Joel Gunter

“I think the president enjoys a scrap with the press,” says Ron Christie, a former adviser to President George W Bush. “I think he believes this is about him and the press and how he’s going to beat the press. What he doesn’t recognise is that the importance of being the president of the United States is to unify the country, to bring people together and to heal divisive wounds.”

As Nancy Cook and Josh Dawsey write in Politico, Mr Trump’s behaviour can be boiled down to a collection of anger triggers.

“White House officials and informal advisers say the triggers for his temper are if he thinks someone is lying to him, if he’s caught by surprise, if someone criticises him, or if someone stops him from trying to do something or seeks to control him,” they write.

If Mr Trump’s actions are part of a larger strategy, and not a fit of pique, there is also the question of whether it’s correct to attribute this to Mr Bannon at all.

While he appears more than willing to take credit for the strategy, the larger themes of the Trump “movement” – border security, aggressive trade protectionism, immigration reform and a certain kind of cultural nostalgia – were well in place before his arrival, as Mr Trump himself likes to point out.

Mr Bannon may have given ideological focus to what was a flailing Trump campaign last August, but the raw material was all Trump’s. And this week – as always – the man at the lectern, the man with his finger on the Twitter trigger, is the president.

The “Make America Great Again” slogan isn’t Bannonism. It’s Trumpism. But whatever you call it, that strain of politics is woven into the fabric of this presidency.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40965827

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Top U.S. General Reaffirms Commitment to Japan Amid North Korea Tensions

August 18, 2017

TOKYO — The top U.S. general repeated Washington’s “ironclad commitment” to the security of its close Asian ally, Japan, on Friday amid regional tensions over North Korea, telling his counterpart in Tokyo that “an attack on one is an attack on both of us”.

Fears about North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs have grown in recent weeks. Pyongyang has said it was considering plans to fire missiles over Japan towards the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, although North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to have delayed the decision.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and their Japanese counterparts agreed at a meeting in Washington on Thursday to work more closely on North Korea.

“The most important thing it (the ministers’ meeting) did was reaffirm the primacy of our bilateral relationship here in Asia-Pacific,” U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford said at the start of a meeting with the Chief of Staff of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, left, poses with Japanese Chief of Staff, Joint Staff Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano for a photo during a meeting at Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“This is a very important time for security in the region and of course we are mostly focused on the threat coming out of North Korea,” Dunford said. “I think we have made it clear to North Korea and anyone else in the region that an attack on one is an attack on both of us.”

Tillerson said in Washington the United States wanted dialogue with Pyongyang, but only if it were meaningful.

“Our effort is to cause them to want to engage in talks but engage in talks with an understanding that these talks will lead to a different conclusion than talks of the past,” he said.

In 2005, North Korea reached an agreement with six countries to suspend its nuclear program in return for diplomatic rewards and energy assistance but the deal later collapsed.

Tensions have risen after North Korea conducted two missile tests in July which, like its five atomic bomb tests, were carried out in defiance of international pressure and United Nations resolutions.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed not to allow North Korea to develop nuclear missiles that could hit the mainland United States but Pyongyang sees its nuclear arsenal as protection against Washington and its partners in Asia.

Dunford said on Thursday the United States and South Korea would go ahead with joint military drills next week despite pressure from North Korea and its main ally, China, to halt the contentious exercises that Pyongyang routinely describes as preparation for war.

North Korea has fired missiles and taken other steps in response to the war games in the past.

“FIRE AND FURY”

Trump warned North Korea last week it would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States, prompting North Korea to say it was considering plans to fire missiles toward Guam.

Both sides have since tempered their rhetoric somewhat, but with North Korea’s military capabilities growing, Japan has been looking to strengthening its defenses.

The Japanese defense ministry wants to introduce a land-based missile defense system called “Aegis Ashore” to address North Korea’s missile threats and has decided to seek funding in the next fiscal year to cover the system design costs, a Japanese defense official told Reuters.

“We will absolutely help and what’s most important for ballistic missile defense is that we integrate our capabilities,” Dunford said.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono said in Washington Japan would strengthen its defense posture in response to the North Korean threat and provide $500 million to help boost maritime security in East Asia, where China has been pursuing extensive maritime claims that have angered regional neighbors.

Japan is likely to increase its defense spending at a faster pace in its next five-year plan from April 2019 than the annual 0.8 percent average rise in its current mid-term plan, the Nikkei business daily reported on Friday. Defense officials have said such a rise was desirable but finance ministry officials are cautious because of Tokyo’s mammoth public debt.

North Korea has repeatedly threatened to target Japan, which hosts around 54,000 U.S. military personnel, as well as South Korea and the United States with its missiles.

SANCTIONS BITE

The United Nations earlier this month approved tough new sanctions against North Korea in response to its missile tests, which include a ban on North Korean seafood exports.

China, North Korea’s largest trading partner, has vowed to enforce the new sanctions, as it has done with previous ones, and says it’s ready to pay the price.

State-run Chinese newspaper the Global Times said on its website late Thursday that authorities in the Chinese border city of Hunchun were negotiating with North Korea about the fate of seafood trucks stuck between the two countries’ customs ports.

“The seafood that can’t enter China is ready to be gradually shipped back to North Korea,” a Hunchun official told the paper.

(Additional reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo, and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Paul Tait and Lincoln Feast)

Steve Bannon, Unrepentant — Interview with Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect

August 17, 2017

Steve Bannon, Unrepentant

(Rex Features via AP Images)

Steve Bannon on the phone, December 9, 2016

You might think from recent press accounts that Steve Bannon is on the ropes and therefore behaving prudently. In the aftermath of events in Charlottesville, he is widely blamed for his boss’s continuing indulgence of white supremacists. Allies of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster hold Bannon responsible for a campaign by Breitbart News, which Bannon once led, to vilify the security chief. Trump’s defense of Bannon, at his Tuesday press conference, was tepid.

But Bannon was in high spirits when he phoned me Tuesday afternoon to discuss the politics of taking a harder line with China, and minced no words describing his efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury. “They’re wetting themselves,” he said, proceeding to detail how he would oust some of his opponents at State and Defense.

Needless to say, I was a little stunned to get an email from Bannon’s assistant midday Tuesday, just as all hell was breaking loose once again about Charlottesville, saying that Bannon wished to meet with me.

Needless to say, I was a little stunned to get an email from Bannon’s assistant midday Tuesday, just as all hell was breaking loose once again about Charlottesville, saying that Bannon wished to meet with me. I’d just published a column on how China was profiting from the U.S.-North Korea nuclear brinkmanship, and it included some choice words about Bannon’s boss.

“In Kim, Trump has met his match,” I wrote. “The risk of two arrogant fools blundering into a nuclear exchange is more serious than at any time since October 1962.” Maybe Bannon wanted to scream at me?

I told the assistant that I was on vacation, but I would be happy to speak by phone. Bannon promptly called.

Far from dressing me down for comparing Trump to Kim, he began, “It’s a great honor to finally track you down. I’ve followed your writing for years and I think you and I are in the same boat when it comes to China.  You absolutely nailed it.”

“We’re at economic war with China,” he added. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow.”

Bannon said he might consider a deal in which China got North Korea to freeze its nuclear buildup with verifiable inspections and the United States removed its troops from the peninsula, but such a deal seemed remote. Given that China is not likely to do much more on North Korea, and that the logic of mutually assured destruction was its own source of restraint, Bannon saw no reason not to proceed with tough trade sanctions against China.

Contrary to Trump’s threat of fire and fury, Bannon said: “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.” Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim.

“To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Bannon’s plan of attack includes: a complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping. “We’re going to run the tables on these guys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.”

But what about his internal adversaries, at the departments of State and Defense, who think the United States can enlist Beijing’s aid on the North Korean standoff, and at Treasury and the National Economic Council who don’t want to mess with the trading system?

“Oh, they’re wetting themselves,” he said, explaining that the Section 301 complaint, which was put on hold when the war of threats with North Korea broke out, was shelved only temporarily, and will be revived in three weeks. As for other cabinet departments, Bannon has big plans to marginalize their influence.

“I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”

But can Bannon really win that fight internally?

“That’s a fight I fight every day here,” he said. “We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and [National Economic Council chair] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying.”

“We gotta do this. The president’s default position is to do it, but the apparatus is going crazy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s like, every day.”

Bannon explained that his strategy is to battle the trade doves inside the administration while building an outside coalition of trade hawks that includes left as well as right. Hence the phone call to me.

There are a couple of things that are startling about this premise. First, to the extent that most of the opponents of Bannon’s China trade strategy are other Trump administration officials, it’s not clear how reaching out to the left helps him. If anything, it gives his adversaries ammunition to characterize Bannon as unreliable or disloyal.

More puzzling is the fact that Bannon would phone a writer and editor of a progressive publication (the cover lines on whose first two issues after Trump’s election were “Resisting Trump” and “Containing Trump”) and assume that a possible convergence of views on China trade might somehow paper over the political and moral chasm on white nationalism.

The question of whether the phone call was on or off the record never came up. This is also puzzling, since Steve Bannon is not exactly Bambi when it comes to dealing with the press. He’s probably the most media-savvy person in America.

I asked Bannon about the connection between his program of economic nationalism and the ugly white nationalism epitomized by the racist violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s reluctance to condemn it. Bannon, after all, was the architect of the strategy of using Breitbart to heat up white nationalism and then rely on the radical right as Trump’s base.

He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it: “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”

“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.

From his lips to Trump’s ear.

“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

I had never before spoken with Bannon. I came away from the conversation with a sense both of his savvy and his recklessness. The waters around him are rising, but he is going about his business of infighting, and attempting to cultivate improbable outside allies, to promote his China strategy. His enemies will do what they do.

Either the reports of the threats to Bannon’s job are grossly exaggerated and leaked by his rivals, or he has decided not to change his routine and to go down fighting. Given Trump’s impulsivity, neither Bannon nor Trump really has any idea from day to day whether Bannon is staying or going. He has survived earlier threats. So what the hell, damn the torpedoes.

The conversation ended with Bannon inviting me to the White House after Labor Day to continue the discussion of China and trade. We’ll see if he’s still there.

http://prospect.org/article/steve-bannon-unrepentant

Top U.S. general says committed to working through difficulties with China

August 15, 2017

Reuters

AUGUST 15, 2017 / 5:35 AM

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford reviews a Chinese honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Bayi Building in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. (AP Photo – Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

BEIJING (Reuters) – There are many difficult issues between the United States and China but both share a commitment to work through them, the United States’ top general said on Tuesday during a visit to Beijing amid tension over nuclear-armed North Korea.

“I think we have to be honest. We have many, many difficult issues where we don’t necessarily share the same perspective,” Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army.

“We share a commitment to work through these difficult issues,” he added, without elaborating.

Fang said China attached great important to his visit and had arranged for him to observe a military exercise.

In a later statement, China’s Defence Ministry said the two discussed North Korea, Taiwan and the South China Sea and signed a framework agreement on a China-U.S. military dialogue mechanism, though it gave no details.

Fang said cooperation was the only correct choice for the two countries, and their two militaries could certainly become good cooperative partners, the ministry added.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Gen. Fang Fenghui shake hands after signing an agreement to strengthen communication between the two militaries amid tensions concerning North Korea at the Bayi Building in Beijing, China August 15, 2017.Mark Schiefelbein/Pool

“The Chinese military is willing to make efforts with the U.S. side to strengthen strategic communication, increase strategic mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, appropriately handle problems and disputes and effectively manage and control risks,” the ministry cited Fang as saying.

The United States has called on China to do more to rein in its isolated neighbor North Korea, while China has said it is Washington that needs to be making more efforts to lessen tensions and speak directly to Pyongyang.

 Image may contain: 5 people, people sitting, table and indoor
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, second left, speaks during a meeting with Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of the general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, not shown, at the Bayi Building in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

North Korea’s leader has delayed a decision on firing missiles towards the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam while he watches U.S. actions a little longer, the North’s state media said on Tuesday, as South Korea’s president said Seoul would seek to prevent war by all means.

China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, say they are committed to having a stable military-to-military relationship, but there are deep fault lines.

China has been angered by U.S. freedom of navigation patrols near Chinese-controlled islands in the disputed South China Sea and U.S. arms sales and support for self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as a wayward province.

The United States has expressed concern about what it calls unsafe intercepts of U.S. aircraft by the Chinese air force and a lack of transparency in China’s military spending, China being in the midst of an ambitious military modernization program.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie, Robert Birsel

The ‘Fire and Fury’ Crisis: Trump Risks a Backfire Over China and North Korea

August 15, 2017

U.S. president walks a dangerous line with Xi Jinping by pressuring Beijing on trade and Pyongyang conflict

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., during an April meeting. Mr. Trump is increasing pressure on Mr. Xi over trade issues and North Korea tensions.
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., during an April meeting. Mr. Trump is increasing pressure on Mr. Xi over trade issues and North Korea tensions. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Aug. 15, 2017 5:37 a.m. ET

SHANGHAI—By ordering his first trade action against Beijing, while amping up pressure on Chinese leaders to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear menace, U.S. President Donald Trump is bringing to a head two of the most intractable problems that bedevil U.S.-China relations.

There are hints that Mr. Trump’s hard-nosed strategy could be having an impact—at least in the near-term. After repeated North Korean threats to launch missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, Pyongyang suddenly backed away from that threat Tuesday. And China has signed on to U.N. sanctions that will slash North Korea’s already meager foreign revenues by another $1 billion.

But Mr. Trump’s strategy comes with risks; each issue—trade and North Korea—is volatile enough to upend the relationship.

Mismanaged, one could ignite a trade war, the other to scenarios that lead to military conflict.

To avoid these dangers, the two sides would have to reconcile clashing views on Asian security, which shape their divergent approaches to North Korea, and incompatible economic systems, which drive trade frictions.

Successive U.S. administrations have delayed the reckoning that Mr. Trump now seeks, precisely because the chances of pulling off such a diplomatic outcome are so improbable.

Indeed, Washington may have missed the opportunity long ago when it had more leverage. The Chinese economy is now powerful enough to withstand any trade sanctions; it is less dependent on exports, whereas U.S. corporations are more reliant than ever on access to China’s consumer markets. A tit-for-tat trade war would hurt both sides, and damage U.S. friends and allies in global supply chains that run through China.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping, riding a wave of assertive nationalism he’s helped to whip up, aims to diminish the U.S. presence in Asia and weaken its alliance system. He has no interest in any kind of arrangement for the Korean Peninsula that would strengthen America’s position there, and allow Washington to turn its attention to other flashpoints like Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Beijing’s bottom line: the status quo in North Korea is preferable to the upheaval required to take out its nuclear weapons, most likely including regime change.

White House officials insist there is no linkage between the North Korean issue and Monday’s presidential order to examine whether an investigation is warranted into Chinese requirements that U.S. companies give up technology in return for market access, as well as outright intellectual property theft.

One Week of Escalation With North Korea
An escalation of threats between Washington and Pyongyang has rattled world leaders, injected uncertainty into markets, and sparked fear of a nuclear showdown. The WSJ’s Shelby Holliday takes a look back at the week. Photo: AP
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Yet Mr. Trump has explicitly made the connection. This was the grand bargain he dangled to Mr. Xi: help me on North Korea and I’ll go easy on trade. He’s rapidly losing patience, though. “Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade” Mr. Trump tweeted, “yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk.”

That’s been the U.S. complaint for years. Now, North Korea is on the point of perfecting intercontinental ballistic missiles able to strike the U.S. mainland.

And mercantilist policies, like forced technology transfers, have become an integral part of China’s state-led industrial model, imperiling America’s long-term economic prospects.

We’re moving toward a climax on two fronts in a crisis atmosphere.

To be sure, Mr. Trump is acting cautiously and deliberately, despite heated rhetoric. An investigation into alleged Chinese trade abuses could take up to a year, leaving ample room for compromise.

On North Korea, he has stressed the need for cooperation, although his threat to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un was as much intended to scare Beijing into action as to rattle the Korean dictator.

Some think Mr. Trump is deploying Nixonian “Madman Theory” to make Chinese leaders believe he is crazy enough to unleash chaos on their doorstep. In a phone call last week, Mr. Xi urged Mr. Trump to “avoid words and deeds that increase tensions.”

A nightmare for Beijing is a North Korean collapse that brings U.S. troops pouring across the 38th parallel, running into Chinese forces headed in the opposite direction to impose order, prevent a refugee wave and secure “loose nukes.”

Avoiding worst-case scenarios is a challenge as great as any the U.S. and China have facedsince diplomatic normalization in 1979.

Henry Kissinger, an architect of that breakthrough, writes in The Wall Street Journal that instead of subcontracting to Beijing the task of achieving American objectives on North Korea, the only feasible approach is “to merge the two efforts and develop a common position.”

But the gap between Beijing and Washington remains immense.

Hours ahead of Mr. Trump’s announcement on trade, Beijing said it would start implementing bans on coal, iron ore, seafood and other products. But it won’t go so far as to cut off fuel and food supplies.

When it comes to trade, Beijing brought so little to the table during the first round of formal talks with the Trump administration they broke up with no joint statements, action plans or even a press conference. The implication is that China feels no sense of urgency, nor does it fear a showdown.

Write to Andrew Browne at andrew.browne@wsj.com

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fire-and-fury-crisis-trump-risks-a-backfire-over-china-and-north-korea-1502789822

Seoul Warns U.S. Against Unilateral Military Action Against North Korea

August 15, 2017

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said allied military action could only be taken on the Korean Peninsula with Seoul’s consent

South Korean President Moon Jae-in marked the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese surrender in WWII.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in marked the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese surrender in WWII. PHOTO: CHUNG SUNG-JUN/GETTY IMAGES
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Aug. 15, 2017 3:14 a.m. ET

South Korea’s president warned the U.S. would need Seoul’s consent for any military action on the Korean Peninsula, and renewed calls for talks with the North, after Pyongyang said it had decided not to carry out a plan to attack the U.S. territory of Guam with missiles.

President Moon Jae-in extended the latest olive branch to North Korea in a speech Tuesday on the 72nd anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

He called on the regime to suspend nuclear and missile tests as a precondition for talks, and offered a fresh invitation for the North to attend next year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.

But in a message that appeared to be aimed at Washington, he said that allied military action could only be taken on the Korean Peninsula with the consent of South Korea, an implicit signal that Mr. Moon wouldn’t tolerate any unilateral action by the U.S. to strike North Korea following weeks of escalating tensions.

“War must never break out again on the Korean Peninsula. Only the Republic of Korea can make the decision for military action on the Korean Peninsula,” he said, using the country’s formal name.

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul declined to comment on Mr. Moon’s speech Tuesday, which was a holiday in Korea.

Mr. Moon reiterated his support for further sanctions on North Korea, saying such an approach could help bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table. He argued that the last time North Korea agreed to a moratorium on nuclear and missile testing, its relations with South Korea, the U.S. and Japan improved.

“The past history of the North Korean nuclear problem showed that a clue to resolving the problem was found when sanctions were combined with dialogue,” he said.

An escalation of threats between Washington and Pyongyang has rattled world leaders, injected uncertainty into markets, and sparked fear of a nuclear showdown. The WSJ’s Shelby Holliday takes a look back at the week. Photo: AP
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Mr. Moon, South Korea’s first left-leaning president in nearly a decade, has called for closer cooperation with North Korea. In his speech Tuesday, Mr. Moon appeared to push for more independence from the U.S. on military affairs, though he emphasized, on two separate occasions, that his position wasn’t different from Washington’s.

“We cannot rely only on our ally for our security,” Mr. Moon said. “When it comes to matters related to the Korean Peninsula, our country has to take the initiative in resolving them.”

Hours earlier, North Korea pulled back its threat to attack Guam after days of trading increasingly bellicose rhetoric with U.S. President Donald Trump.

North Korean state media said that Kim Jong Un had made his decision not to fire on Guam after visiting a military command post and examining a military plan presented to him by his senior officers. But it warned that he could change his mind “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.”

The announcement came after China banned imports of key North Korean materials, Beijing’s toughest steps against Pyongyang, to support United Nations sanctions.

In Guam, authorities welcomed the apparent lifting of the missile threat from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“We are happy that the rhetoric has calmed down, that he won’t be pursuing his threats to fire missiles at Guam,” said Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio. “The comments allay some of the concerns and the fears.”

The U.S. military on Guam would maintain a high level of readiness to respond to any threat, said Greg Kuntz, deputy public affairs officer for Joint Region Marianas.

Guam is home to two major U.S. military bases. The island is situated roughly 3,800 miles west of Hawaii and 2,100 miles south-southeast of Pyongyang.

The North Korea Crisis

A timeline of the escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang

  • July 4, 2017

    North Korea test-launches its first intercontinental ballistic missile, a weapon capable of hitting the mainland U.S.
  • July 28, 2017

    A North Korean missile flies even higher in a new test, establishing that if launched at a standard trajectory it could hit the contiguous U.S. states and possibly go as far as Denver and Chicago.PHOTO: KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Aug. 5, 2017

    In a show of unanimity, the United Nations Security Council approves new sanctions against North Korea.
  • Aug. 6, 2017

    North Korea calls the sanctions “a frontal attack on our republic and violent infringement on our sovereignty.”
  • Aug. 8, 2017

    President Donald Trump says North Korea will be met with “fire and fury” if it continues threatening the U.S.PHOTO: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

  • Aug. 9, 2017

    North Korea says it is considering plan to launch four missiles to surround Guam with “enveloping fire.”
  • Aug. 10, 2017

    Mr. Trump ratchets up his rhetoric, saying maybe his threat of fire and fury “wasn’t tough enough.”
  • Aug. 11, 2017

    Mr. Trump tweets that military solutions to the crisis are “in place, locked and loaded.” Separately, Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping discuss North Korea by phone. China says it urged restraint. The U.S. says the leaders affirmed the importance of the new sanctions.
  • Aug. 12, 2017

    The Trump administration announces plan to investigate alleged Chinese intellectual-property theft.
  • Aug. 14, 2017

    China announces ban on imports of coal, iron and seafood from North Korea.
  • Aug. 15, 2017

    North Korea says it has decided not to carry out missile attack on Guam.PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

Source: Staff and news reports

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com and Lucy Craymer at Lucy.Craymer@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/seoul-warns-u-s-against-unilateral-military-action-against-north-korea-1502781287

North Korea Backs Off Threat to Hit Guam

August 15, 2017

Hours after China took steps to support U.N. sanctions, North Korean state media says Kim Jong Un decided not to fire on Guam

An image from a news bulletin by North Korea state media about the country’s missile launch in July.
An image from a news bulletin by North Korea state media about the country’s missile launch in July. PHOTO: KSNA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Updated Aug. 14, 2017 11:51 p.m. ET

North Korea pulled back its threat to attack a U.S. territory, after days of trading increasingly bellicose rhetoric with U.S. President Donald Trump, and hours after China took its toughest steps against Pyongyang to support U.N. sanctions.

North Korean state media said Tuesday that Kim Jong Un had made his decision not to fire on Guam after visiting a military command post and examining a military plan presented to him by his senior officers. But it warned that he could change his mind “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.”

The turnabout came as the U.S. and China were engaged in a delicate contest on two fronts, with each trying to push the other to handle the North Korea situation in the way it preferred, even while both sparred over trade issues that they insisted were unrelated.

Beijing said it would ban imports of North Korean coal, iron and seafood, starting Tuesday, measures that hew to sanctions passed by the U.N. Security Council this month targeting Pyongyang’s nuclear-arms program. The timing of the announcement was a response to Mr. Trump’s plans to kick off a probe into China’s alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property, according to people with knowledge of the Chinese leadership’s thinking. That probe was officially announced later on Monday.

“This action on North Korea should help ease the renewed trade tensions,” a government adviser involved in making policy said. China had been expected to disclose such steps and said in an official statement that its move was made to enforce the latest U.N. sanctions.

One Week of Escalation With North Korea
An escalation of threats between Washington and Pyongyang has rattled world leaders, injected uncertainty into markets, and sparked fear of a nuclear showdown. The WSJ’s Shelby Holliday takes a look back at the week. Photo: AP

Beijing’s move on North Korean imports followed a weekend phone call between Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on how to deal with North Korea’s advances in developing nuclear weapons and missiles.

Mr. Trump on Friday warned that U.S. military resources were in place, “locked and loaded,” should North Korea “act unwisely.”

North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile program has advanced rapidly, and a missile test in late July put the continental U.S. firmly in range of a strike. Pyongyang this month threatened to lob missiles toward the Pacific island of Guam.

The advances have prompted questions about whether Mr. Kim’s regime obtained Soviet-designed rocket engines. The liquid-propellant rocket engines North Korea has been using in recent tests were probably acquired through illicit channels originating in Ukraine or Russia, a report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies said Monday.

Stephen Noerper, a professor of political science at Columbia University and senior director at the Korea Society, warned tensions on the Korean peninsula were liable to quickly ramp up again, given upcoming joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea slated to begin next week in South Korea.

“I don’t think we should overassume,” he said. “The escalatory nature of things on the peninsula are that you can go from zero to 10 very quickly…This could get very hot again.”

The North Korea Crisis

A timeline of the escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang

  • July 4, 2017

    North Korea test-launches its first intercontinental ballistic missile, a weapon capable of hitting the mainland U.S.
  • July 28, 2017

    A North Korean missile flies even higher in a new test, establishing that if launched at a standard trajectory it could hit the contiguous U.S. states and possibly go as far as Denver and Chicago.PHOTO: KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Aug. 5, 2017

    In a show of unanimity, the United Nations Security Council approves new sanctions against North Korea.
  • Aug. 6, 2017

    North Korea calls the sanctions “a frontal attack on our republic and violent infringement on our sovereignty.”
  • Aug. 8, 2017

    President Donald Trump says North Korea will be met with “fire and fury” if it continues threatening the U.S.PHOTO: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

  • Aug. 9, 2017

    North Korea says it is considering plan to launch four missiles to surround Guam with “enveloping fire.”
  • Aug. 10, 2017

    Mr. Trump ratchets up his rhetoric, saying maybe his threat of fire and fury “wasn’t tough enough.”
  • Aug. 11, 2017

    Mr. Trump tweets that military solutions to the crisis are “in place, locked and loaded.” Separately, Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping discuss North Korea by phone. China says it urged restraint. The U.S. says the leaders affirmed the importance of the new sanctions.
  • Aug. 12, 2017

    The Trump administration announces plan to investigate alleged Chinese intellectual-property theft.
  • Aug. 14, 2017

    China announces ban on imports of coal, iron and seafood from North Korea.
  • Aug. 15, 2017

    North Korea says it has decided not to carry out missile attack on Guam.PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

Source: Staff and news reports

Earlier on Monday in Seoul, before news of Mr. Kim’s decision, Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. must take threats from North Korea seriously, despite fresh skepticism from South Korea that Pyongyang has the ability to reliably deliver an intercontinental ballistic missile to the U.S.

“I honestly think it’s an academic issue whether it can happen today or happen tomorrow,” Gen. Dunford told reporters after wrapping up meetings with South Korea’s president and other defense officials.

Gen. Dunford noted that North Korea had conducted missile and nuclear tests “at a historic rate”—at least 15 tests in the past year.

But uncertainty remains about the North’s ability to endanger the American homeland or even Guam.

Those doubts were underscored Sunday by a senior South Korean defense official, who said that both Seoul and Washington had concluded Pyongyang lacks the missile re-entry technology to successfully launch an intercontinental ballistic missile at the continental U.S.

John Delury, a China historian and North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul, said Mr. Kim’s decision was likely a response to more tempered language from the Trump administration over the weekend, including from Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo, national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and Secretaries of State and Defense Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis.

“The signaling from the Trump administration dialed it down a notch—we have to give them credit,” Mr. Delury said. Referring to an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Mr. Delury added, “When’s the last time the secretary of state and the secretary of defense wrote an op-ed together?”

Mr. Trump’s move on Monday was part of an effort to juggle Washington’s competing policy goals with China, balancing the desire for more cooperation in controlling North Korea against a desire to curb the $347 billion bilateral trade deficit.

Mr. Trump made no mention of China’s import ban while at the White House signing ceremony on Monday in which he directed aides to explore the prospect of sanctioning Beijing for the “unfair” acquisition of American technology. He also offered no indication that tensions with China had eased: He said as he signed the directive that “this is just the beginning.”

The directive was the first formal China trade action taken by a president who has long blasted the country for improperly aggressive commercial practices.

“We will stand up to any country that unlawfully forces American companies to transfer their valuable technology as a condition of market access,” Mr. Trump said, echoing a complaint made frequently by U.S. firms seeking entry to the world’s second largest economy. “The theft of intellectual property by foreign countries costs our nation millions of jobs and billions and billions of dollars each and every year,” he added.

While Mr. Trump’s tone was tough, the process he launched was measured.

He specifically ordered his trade representative to begin a study into whether to launch a formal investigation about complaints that Beijing forces multinationals to license valuable technology to Chinese companies as the price of entry into China’s markets. Aides said if the investigation does proceed, it could take a year before any decisions are made on imposing trade sanctions.

Mr. Trump has said he would cut Beijing slack over trade disputes if he felt the Chinese were being helpful in reining in Pyongyang. But there is a difference of opinion within the administration on whether to keep economic and security issues on separate tracks, said a person who was briefed on the process of formulating Monday’s China order.

The White House had originally planned to unveil the China probe in early August, but put the announcement off until after China voted on Aug. 5 in support of the Security Council resolution on North Korea, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

Asked whether the White House was linking its handling of China trade pressure with the North Korea issue, a senior administration official said “these are totally unrelated events.”

China, too, separated the issues. “The North Korean nuclear issue and the China-U.S. trade issue are totally different and it is not appropriate to use one as a tool to keep pressure on the other issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday before the move to curb North Korean imports.

She said China has been improving its regulations on intellectual property rights, while boosting social awareness of the issue.

North Korean state media didn’t immediately comment on China’s announcement.

China is by far North Korea’s biggest trading partner, accounting for more than 80% of North Korea’s external trade for the past five years.

China has long shied away from severe punitive steps, such as cutting off fuel and food supplies, that could trigger the collapse of the North Korean regime.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly questioned China’s willingness to ratchet up pressure on North Korea.

In recent months, his administration moved toward unilaterally tightening sanctions, targeting Chinese companies and banks the U.S. says are funneling cash into Pyongyang’s weapons program.

Beijing has resisted Washington’s suggestions that it isn’t doing enough to pressure Pyongyang, saying the U.S. must directly engage North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions.

Write to Chun Han Wong at chunhan.wong@wsj.com, Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com and Jacob M. Schlesinger at jacob.schlesinger@wsj.com

Appeared in the August 15, 2017, print edition.

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-bans-key-north-korean-imports-1502703030

 

Both Korean Leaders, US Signal Turn to Diplomacy Amid Crisis

August 15, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s military on Tuesday presented leader Kim Jong Un with plans to launch missiles into waters near Guam and “wring the windpipes of the Yankees,” even as both Koreas and the United States signaled their willingness to avert a deepening crisis, with each suggesting a path toward negotiations.

The tentative interest in diplomacy follows unusually combative threats between President Donald Trump and North Korea amid worries that Pyongyang is nearing its long-sought goal of accurately being able to send a nuclear missile to the U.S. mainland. Next week’s start of U.S.-South Korean military exercises that enrage the North each year make it unclear, however, if diplomacy will prevail.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, child and outdoor

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrates a successful ICBM launch with scientists and technicians of the DPRK

During an inspection of the North Korean army’s Strategic Forces, which handles the missile program, Kim praised the military for drawing up a “close and careful plan” and said he would watch the “foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” a little more before deciding whether to order the missile test, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said. Kim appeared in photos sitting at a table with a large map marked by a straight line between what appeared to be northeastern North Korea and Guam, and passing over Japan — apparently showing the missiles’ flight route.

The missile plans were previously announced. Kim said North Korea would conduct the launches if the “Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity,” and that the United States should “think reasonably and judge properly” to avoid shaming itself, the news agency said.

Image result for moon, dunford, photos

South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford during their meeting at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, August 14, 2017. Bae Jae-man/Yonhap via REUTERS

Lobbing missiles toward Guam, a major U.S. military hub in the Pacific, would be a deeply provocative act from the U.S. perspective, and a miscalculation on either side could lead to a military clash. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said the United States would take out any such missile seen to be heading for American soil and declared any such North Korean attack could mean war

Kim’s comments, however, with their conditional tone, seemed to hold out the possibility that friction could ease if the United States made some sort of gesture that Pyongyang considered a move to back away from previous “extremely dangerous reckless actions.”

That could refer to the U.S.-South Korean military drills set to begin Monday, which the North claims are rehearsals for invasion. It also could refer to the B-1B bombers that the U.S. has occasionally flown over the Korean Peninsula as a show of force.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, meanwhile, a liberal who favors engagement with the North, urged North Korea to stop provocations and to commit to talks over its nuclear weapons program.

Moon, in a televised speech Tuesday on the anniversary of the end of World War II and the Korean Peninsula’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule, said that Seoul and Washington agree that the crisis over the North’s nuclear program should “absolutely be solved peacefully,” and that no U.S. military action on the Korean Peninsula could be taken without Seoul’s consent.

Moon said the North could create conditions for talks by stopping nuclear and missile tests.

“Our government will put everything on the line to prevent another war on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said. “Regardless of whatever twist and turns we could experience, the North Korean nuclear program should absolutely be solved peacefully, and the (South Korean) government and the U.S. government don’t have a different position on this.”

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, on Monday met with senior South Korean military and political officials and the local media, and made comments that appeared to be an attempt to ease anxiety while also showing a willingness to back Trump’s warnings if need be.

Dunford said the United States wants to peacefully resolve tensions with North Korea, but Washington is also ready to use the “full range” of its military capabilities in case of provocation.

Dunford is visiting South Korea, Japan and China after a week in which Trump declared the U.S. military “locked and loaded” and said he was ready to unleash “fire and fury” if North Korea continued to threaten the United States.

North Korea’s military had said last week it would finalize and send to Kim for approval the plan to fire four ballistic missiles near Guam, which is about 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) from Pyongyang.

The plans are based on the Hwasong-12, a new missile the country successfully flight-tested for the first time in May. The liquid-fuel missile is designed to be fired from road mobile launchers and has been previously described by North Korea as built for attacking Alaska and Hawaii.

The North followed the May launch with two flight tests of its Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile last month. Analysts said that a wide swath of the continental United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, could be within reach of those missiles, once they’re perfected.

The North’s latest report said Kim ordered his military to be prepared to launch the missiles toward Guam at any time. Kim said that if the “planned fire of power demonstration” is carried out because of U.S. recklessness, it will be “the most delightful historic moment when the Hwasong artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks,” the North reported.

North Korea is angry about new United Nations sanctions over its expanding nuclear weapons and missile program and the upcoming military drills between Washington and Seoul.

Kim said the United States must “make a proper option first and show it through action, as it committed provocations after introducing huge nuclear strategic equipment into the vicinity of the peninsula” and that it “should stop at once arrogant provocations” against North Korea, state media said.

___

AP writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

Top U.S. General to Meet South Korean Leader Amid Tensions

August 13, 2017

Bloomberg

By Heejin Kim

August 13, 2017, 2:27 AM EDT August 13, 2017, 5:00 AM EDT
  • Dunford to meet South Korean President Moon on Monday
  • Visit follows week of threats by Pyongyang and Washington
Joseph Dunford Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The U.S.’s top general plans to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday, just days after his counterpart Donald Trump said military options against North Korea were “locked and loaded.”

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with senior military officials along with Moon, according to an official with South Korea’s Blue House who asked not to be identified. He will head to China next on the previously scheduled visit, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing an unidentified military official.

Dunford’s Asia visit comes as fears grow that a war of words between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will lead to a miscalculation that sparks an actual military conflict. In a call with Trump on Saturday in Asia, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to maintain restraint and avoid inflammatory comments.

The U.S. Pacific Command referred all questions on Dunford’s schedule to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nobody at the office picked up the phone after regular working hours. A tweet from the joint chiefs on Sunday showed him arriving at Yokota Air Base in Japan.

The U.S. hasn’t taken any public steps to prepare for hostilities such as evacuating Americans from Seoul, which is within range of North Korean artillery, or moving ships, aircraft or troops into position for an imminent response. The U.S. has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.

Read more on signs that a war may be coming

Following Trump’s vow to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea, Kim’s regime threatened to fire four Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan into waters near Guam, home to U.S. military bases in the region. The U.S. and its allies warned Kim against such a move, and Japan deployed four Patriot missile interceptors into the western part of the country.

Some analysts expect further escalation in the coming days as both North and South Korea celebrate the Aug. 15 anniversary of the end of Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula, and the latter conducts joint military exercises with the U.S. from Aug. 21. Japan is also holding annual military drills with the U.S. over the next few weeks.

North Korea’s state-run media on Sunday condemned the planned military drills and said the U.S. is “letting out dangerous war rhetoric.” The Korean Central News Agency added that Trump’s “wild remarks” are causing concern and anger in South Korea.

Moon’s administration has pushed to start talks with North Korea even while looking to strengthen its defenses after North Korea test-fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July. On Sunday, Deputy Unification Minister Chun Haesung said South Korea was seeking to ease tensions and the door for dialogue with North Korea was still open.

‘Die Over There’

Recent comments from Trump have raised concerns that the U.S. would be willing to accept collateral damage among its Asian allies to protect the American homeland.

Dunford said last month that it was “unimaginable” to allow North Korea to develop the capability to strike a U.S. city with a nuclear weapon. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, told NBC News that Trump told him that “if thousands die, they’re going to die over there.”

More recently, Defense Secretary James Mattis has sought to reassure U.S. partners in the region. He said on Thursday that the U.S. works closely with its allies to ensure that any military response wouldn’t be unilateral, warning that the impact of a conflict “would be catastrophic.”

Trump has continued to take an aggressive tone on North Korea. On Friday, Trump said that if Kim makes any “overt threat” or strike at a U.S. territory or ally “he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.” Trump also said the U.S. was considering tighter sanctions against North Korea.

China Pressure

“Hopefully it will all work out,” he told reporters in Bedminster, New Jersey. “Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.”

China, North Korea’s main benefactor, agreed to harsh United Nations sanctions earlier this month even while calling on all sides to take a step back and negotiate a solution. Beijing is reluctant to put so much pressure on the regime that it risks collapse, in part to avoid a scenario that could lead to a unified Korea and push U.S. troops right up to China’s border.

Trump has sought to pressure China to do more by linking action on North Korea to better trade terms. On Monday, he plans to take steps that will increase pressure on China over what the U.S. perceives to be theft of intellectual property.

Trump’s posture suggested he was trying to dissuade Kim from further provocations rather than setting the stage for a U.S. military strike, according to Terence Roehrig, a national security affairs professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport.

“The president’s rhetoric could be aimed at China, but largely it is aimed at North Korea, trying to deter,” Roehrig said. “North Koreans are not suicidal. They may continue launching missile tests but they don’t want a war, and the U.S. doesn’t want military action either.”

— With assistance by Yuan Gao, Janet Ong, Reinie Booysen, Heejin Kim, Nafeesa Syeed, Kenneth Pringle, Min Jeong Lee, and Takashi Amano

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-13/top-u-s-general-jets-into-asia-as-north-korea-tensions-run-high

How to Resolve the North Korea Crisis

August 13, 2017

An understanding between the U.S. and Beijing is the essential prerequisite. Tokyo and Seoul also have key roles to play.

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People in Tokyo walk past a screen showing news on North Korea, Aug. 10.
People in Tokyo walk past a screen showing news on North Korea, Aug. 10. PHOTO: REUTERS
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Aug. 11, 2017 6:08 p.m. ET

For more than 30 years, the world’s response to North Korea’s nuclear program has combined condemnation with procrastination. Pyongyang’s reckless conduct is deplored. Warnings are issued that its evolution toward weaponization will prove unacceptable. Yet its nuclear program has only accelerated.

The Aug. 5 sanctions resolution passed unanimously by the United Nations Security Council marked a major step forward. Still, an agreed objective remains to be established. But the North Korean success in testing a prototype intercontinental ballistic missile eliminates the scope for further equivocation. If Kim Jong Un maintains a nuclear program against the opposition of China and the U.S. and a unanimous Security Council resolution, it will alter the geostrategic relationship among the principal players. If Pyongyang develops a full-scale nuclear capacity while the world dithers, it will seriously diminish the credibility of the American nuclear umbrella in Asia, especially for our allies in Tokyo and Seoul.

The long-term challenge reaches beyond the threat to American territory to the prospect of nuclear chaos. An operational North Korean ICBM arsenal is still some time away given the need to miniaturize warheads, attach them to missiles, and produce them in numbers. But Asia’s nations are already under threat from North Korea’s existing short- and intermediate-range missiles. As this threat compounds, the incentive for countries like Vietnam, South Korea and Japan to defend themselves with their own nuclear weapons will grow dramatically—an ominous turn for the region and the world. Reversing the progress Pyongyang has already made is as crucial as preventing its further advancement.

American as well as multilateral diplomacy on North Korea has been unsuccessful, owing to an inability to merge the key players’ objectives—especially those of China and the U.S.—into an operational consensus. American demands for an end to the North Korean nuclear program have proved unavailing. U.S. leaders, including in the military, have been reluctant to use force; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has described the prospect of a war over Korea as “catastrophic.” Thousands of artillery tubes entrenched within range of the South Korean capital demonstrate Pyongyang’s strategy of holding hostage greater Seoul’s population of 30 million.

Unilateral pre-emptive military action by the U.S. would involve a risk of conflict with China. Beijing, even if it temporarily acquiesced, would not long abide an American strategy of determining by itself outcomes at the very edge of China’s heartland, as its intervention in the Korean War of the 1950s demonstrated. The use of military force must be carefully analyzed, and its vocabulary must be restrained. But it cannot be precluded.

Considerations such as these have caused the administration’s attempt to enlist China in a diplomatic effort to press Korea toward denuclearization. These efforts so far have had only partial success. China shares the American concern regarding nuclear proliferation; it is in fact the country most immediately affected by it. But while America has been explicit about the goal, it has been less willing to confront its political consequences. Given North Korea’s enormous and disproportionate allocation of national resources to its nuclear-weapons program, abandoning or substantially curtailing it would produce a political upheaval, perhaps even regime change.

China surely understands this. Therefore one of the most conspicuous events of current diplomacy is Beijing’s support in principle of North Korean denuclearization. At the same time, the prospect of disintegration or chaos in North Korea evokes at least two major concerns in China. The first is the political and social effects of a North Korean internal crisis on China itself, re-enacting events familiar from millennia of Chinese history. The second involves security in Northeast Asia. China’s incentive to help implement denuclearization will be to impose comparable restraints on all of Korea. To be sure, South Korea has no visible nuclear program or announced plans for it, but an international proscription is another matter.

China would also have a stake in the political evolution of North Korea following denuclearization, whether it be a two-state solution or unification, and in restrictions on military deployment placed on North Korea. Heretofore, the administration has urged China to press North Korea as a kind of subcontractor to achieve American objectives. The better—probably only feasible—approach is to merge the two efforts and develop a common position jointly pursued with the other countries involved.

Statements defining the U.S. goal as bringing Pyongyang to the conference table reflect the assumption that negotiations are their own objective, operating according to their own momentum, separate from the pressures that brought them about and are needed to sustain them. But American diplomacy will, in the end, be judged by the outcome, not the process. Repeated assurances that the U.S. seeks no unilateral advantage are not sufficient for countries that believe the Asian security structure is at risk.

So which parties should negotiate, and over what? An understanding between Washington and Beijing is the essential prerequisite for the denuclearization of Korea. By an ironic evolution, China at this point may have an even greater interest than the U.S. in forestalling the nuclearization of Asia. Beijing runs the risk of deteriorating relations with America if it gets blamed for insufficient pressure on Pyongyang. Since denuclearization requires sustained cooperation, it cannot be achieved by economic pressure. It requires a corollary U.S.-Chinese understanding on the aftermath, specifically about North Korea’s political evolution and deployment restraints on its territory. Such an understanding should not alter existing alliance relationships.

Paradoxical as it may seem in light of a half-century of history, such an understanding is probably the best way to break the Korean deadlock. A joint statement of objectives and implicit actions would bring home to Pyongyang its isolation and provide a basis for the international guarantee essential to safeguard its outcome.

Seoul and Tokyo must play a key role in this process. No country is more organically involved than South Korea. It must have, by geography and alliance relationship, a crucial voice in the political outcome. It would be the most directly affected by a diplomatic solution and the most menaced by military contingencies. It is one thing for American and other leaders to proclaim that they would not take advantage of North Korea’s denuclearization. Seoul is certain to insist on a more embracing and formal concept.

Similarly, Japan’s history has been linked with Korea’s for millennia. Tokyo’s concept of security will not tolerate indefinitely a nuclear Korea without a nuclear capability of its own. Its evaluation of the American alliance will be importantly influenced by the degree to which the U.S. management of the crisis takes Japanese concerns into account.

The alternative route of a direct U.S. negotiation with Pyongyang tempts some. But it would leave us a partner that can have only a minimum interest in implementation and a maximum interest in playing China and the U.S. off against each other. An understanding with China is needed for maximum pressure and workable guarantees. Instead, Pyongyang could best be represented at a culminating international conference.

There have been suggestions that a freeze of testing could provide an interim solution leading to eventual denuclearization. This would repeat the mistake of the Iranian agreement: seeking to solve a geostrategic problem by constraining the technical side alone. It would provide infinite pretexts for procrastination while “freeze” is defined and inspection mechanisms are developed.

Pyongyang must not be left with the impression that it can trade time for procedure and envelop purpose in tactics as a way to stall and thus fulfill its long-held aspirations. A staged process may be worth considering, but only if it substantially reduces the Korean nuclear capacity and research program in the short term.

A North Korea retaining an interim weapons capability would institutionalize permanent risks:

• that a penurious Pyongyang might sell nuclear technology;

• that American efforts may be perceived as concentrating on protecting its own territory, while leaving the rest of Asia exposed to nuclear blackmail;

• that other countries may pursue nuclear deterrent against Pyongyang, one another or, in time, the U.S.;

• that frustration with the outcome will take the form of mounting conflict with China;

• that proliferation may accelerate in other regions;

• that the American domestic debate may become more divisive.

Substantial progress toward denuclearization—and its attainment in a brief period—is the most prudent course.

Mr. Kissinger served as secretary of state and national security adviser in the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Appeared in the August 12, 2017, print edition.

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